ASEAN’s national police chiefs are meeting at the 26th ASEAN Chiefs of Police (ASEANAPOL) conference in Kuala Lumpur this week to push ahead initiatives to combat transnational crime.
An initiative for regional law enforcement cooperation - the electronic ASEANAPOL Database System (e-ADS), was launched at the conference for fast information sharing between law enforcement agencies in the region. First proposed 15 years ago, an earlier database system had failed due to rapidly outdated technology, high costs and lack of maintenance. Aimed at fighting transnational crime, the new web-based system will facilitate the exchange of criminal information and intelligence amongst ASEAN police forces and encourage member countries to develop multilateral and bilateral arrangements combating transnational crimes.
To help ASEAN police forces to work more closely with international crime fighting agencies such as Interpol and Europol, police chiefs have also proposed to set up an ASEANAPOL permanent secretariat in Jakarta, similar to EUROPOL and INTERPOL. Malaysian Inspector General of Police Mohd Bakri Omar said e-ADS would be managed by this secretariat which would also undertake the hosting of programmes relating to police management, law enforcement, investigation, coordinating of operational projects and would be a centre for crime information analysis.
ASEAN police chiefs agree regional security has improved somewhat in light of the recent successes against regional terrorist groups. But they say the war on terror goes on.
Speaking at the launch of the conference, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said terrorism was a scourge that ASEAN leaders viewed as a direct challenge to the attainment of peace, progress and prosperity of ASEAN and the realisation of ASEAN Vision 2020. He added that ASEANAPOL can move forward by intensifying training, consultation and the sharing of intelligence and experiences in combating terrorism, lauding the success of initiatives such as the Joint ASEANPOL Senior Police Officers Course (JASPOC) and joint training programmes in combating specific crimes such as drug trafficking and firearms smuggling.
Najib said these joint activities and multilateral contacts reflected the growing co-operation and solidarity among ASEAN member countries, but recognised that ASEANAPOL needed to further enhance co-operation, share information and focus on the threats of terrorism and other transnational crimes. He said that in advancing forward, ASEANPOL must have the mechanism and legal framework in order to ensure the success of measures taken in combating transnational crime. However, an ASEAN Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters had been ratified only by Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in 2004. Najib expressed that it is hoped that the rest of the ASEAN states would soon follow suit.
Najib also pointed out that ASEANAPOL needed to continue to work with international agencies and specialised bodies of the United Nations, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), Europol, and other organisations of similar standing globally in order to be effective in dealing with transnational crime and threats to the security of the region. Najib said more areas of cooperation were being planned regionally under the work programme of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) and the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC).
Database launched vs. transnational misdeeds (AFP, 24 May 2006)
ASEAN police chiefs launch database to combat trans-border crime (Channel NewsAsia, 23 May 2006)
M'sian Police Develops e-ads For Faster Information Sharing In Region (Bernama, 23 May 2006)
E-database system for ASEAN police forces launched (Viet Nam News Agency, 23 May 2006)
Five-point challenge to Asean police forces (The Star, 24 May 2006)
Five Challenges For Asean Police Chiefs To Fight Crime, Terror (Bernama, 23 May 2006)
Call for Asean to tackle bio-terrorism (New Straits Times, 24 May 2006)